Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A mini break, a mini harvest

Kev is away at the moment and Pat fancied some girly company so I did the right thing and yesterday headed over with my mountain bike to their 'new' house near Lavelenet. The weather was perfect for a VTT mountain bike ride. The area around their house has numerous well signposted VTT routes of various levels of difficulty and in Pat's words 'we are like kids in a sweetshop!'. I soon understood the reason for her excitement. We set off straight from the house. The route she had chosen took us along farm tracks and woodland singletrack, along disused railway lines and hardpack tracks, up hills (1.3kms at 11.5% was tough) and down technical descents and along riverside paths - I have never experienced such variety on a VTT ride before! We covered 50kms and rewarded ourselves with an icecream two thirds of the way around, although our attempts at finding somewhere that served beer proved fruitless (on Monday afternoons there is very little open in the area)! My bike was working well and so were my legs. It had been a cracking ride out and I/we are now hungry for more!After a fun evening rocking and rolling to Johnny Halliday and supping wine, we had a lazy start this morning and opted for a 10km walk rather than a run, following another of the well sign-posted VTT routes from the house, which at one point took us up a steep incline from which we had lovely views back down the valley towards one of the many villages along the way.We filled a bag with juicy blackberries and collected fallen walnuts which are now wonderfully ripe over there (still another week or two to wait for the walnuts up the chemin here at Pissou). We also saw some fantastic quince trees with enormous fruit and fig trees bearing plump, ripe figs which Pat couldn't help but pluck at opportune moments! Before I left this afternoon, I filled a big with the biggest, juiciest elderberries that I have ever seen. Some are now simmering away with the blackberries and some apples from the trees around Pissou, ready for straining and transforming into my version of hedgerow jelly tomorrow. I think the remaining 3 lbs of elderberries will be transformed into Pontack sauce at some point tomorrow. I think I will make an apple and walnut tart using more windfall apples and the walnuts - yum! I so love this time of year!

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